Ch.ACO 2017, Santiago de Chile

By Terremoto, Santiago, Chile
October 11, 2017 – October 15, 2017

Elodie Fulton
Director of Ch.ACO

Terremoto: Along its nine editions, Ch.ACO has become the most important platform for the Chilean art market by summoning a number of national and international galleries, collectors, artist, curators, museum institutions and the general public. How would you describe Ch.ACO’s model before other international fairs in the region? What challenges exist for the fair in the near future both nationally and regionally?

Elodie FultonSince its first edition, Ch.ACo has functioned by the standards of the existing fairs of the region and the rest of the world. From this base, Ch.ACO follows a road towards consolidation as one of the main cultural events in the country. Through the years we’ve been witnesses to the growing interest of the specialised public both national and international for attending and participating at the fair.

On the other hand, the actual curated sections are also a good point of reference to understand how the fair has amplified its action fields. Planta, for example, comes to exist only after having concentrated the look during three years on the young and more alternative scene in Chile (through the program Pop_Up Spaces), to then extend to Latin America.

From another perspective, the fair has strengthen its relationship with institutions, something fundamental to its consolidation. In this ninth edition of ChACo, we have the support of the Vitacura Municipality, ProChile, the British-Chilean Culture institute and the embassies  of Italy and Mexico, among many other institutions and organisations that have trusted the fair and have been able to realise its potential.

T: In this edition of Ch.ACO the fair extends to the street with the program Ch.ACO a la Calle (Ch.ACO to the streets), under the slogan “Fluye, Confluye” (Flows, Converges), as well as with the Art and City program. This programs reflect a preoccupation to create a more inclusive market field with the intentions to forge a social compromise. What are its objectives and to what necessities and opportunities in the cultural system of Chile do these initiatives respond? What was like to work with the communities that these programs impact?

EF: One of our main objectives is to amplify the audiences and we believe that an important part of this mission is realised through initiatives that seek to bring together the community. To do this, we collaborate with different cultural and commercial agents from the community with the intention of developing an activity program and ephemeral works of art.

Vitacura is a community that today has 14 cultural spaces and art galleries; more than a 100 artworks in the public space, among which are 350 restaurants, 300 stores and luxury commerce. This, besides its more than 1000 hectares of green areas, it allows it to be a place favorable to to start a plan that seeks to augment the cultural capital and consolidate the image of Santiago through the visual arts. We hope that this year the project impacts more than 35000 people, who will have the possibility to interact with art in the public space.

The cultural and territorial policies are crucial to promote the image of cities and countries. They augmentative the sense of pertinence between residents, the attract a bigger flow of visitors to the cultural offer, they deliver intentional prestige, strengthen the image of the country and generate a patrimony for the generations to come.

Ch.ACO develops public art and community projects by coordinating municipal instances, cultural institutions and private entities to create a context for the cultural and economic development for the city. Through works of contemporary art of high impact, the community interacts with these urban interventions that address sociological, ecological and social thematics.

T: For many emerging galleries, one of the big problems at art fairs is the cost-benefit implied, where the investment made, commonly isn’t remunerate by the sales. Also, the tendency of the market in the frame of the fairs is it’s eventual over saturation, as we can see in the American market. ¿How can ChACO approximate to these problematics to foster better opportunities to gallerists?

EF: The local market is still on the road to development, which is why fortunately we don’t perceive the problem of over saturation that you mention. Since the creation of the fair, gallerists have been the center of attention, along with the greater public and the institutions that are part of the ecosystem. These years, there have been multiple organisations and institutions born and that aim to the creation of communities around art, with a direct benefit for galleries. Not going very far, today we have an association of contemporary art galleries (AGAC) and a sectorial brand (SÍSMICA), besides, today there are new collectors, galleries, artists and buyers. There is still a lot to talk about regarding the consolidation of a market, pero we’re on the right track.

Carolina Castro Jorquera
Curator of the section

Terremoto: The section Planta distinguishes for gathering Latin American spaces that propose new management models. What particular and common features do the nine galleries you have selected have? What potential do you find in them to rethink the current models of art circulation?

Carolina Castro Jorquera: There are nine spaces: Km 0.2 from Puerto Rico, Tokyo from Lima, Totoral Lab that is a project from the Chilean cost, UV Estudios, Pasto, Piedras and Big Sur from Buenos Aires, and Panam and Sagrada Mercancía, both spaces from Santiago.

Among them there are some spaces that are more oriented to the non-profit, to the non-profit organization, and others oriented more towards the commercial gallery. A good example of this is the difference between Pasto, which is a gallery that is already much more constituted in terms of market, and has collectors who support it, and in a city with a commercial infrastructure like Buenos Aires have managed to position itself quite well, it represents a group of artists quite powerful, and not necessarily all young. As opposed to Km 0.2 from Puerto Rico which is a self-managed project by artists, the directors are Roberto Yiyo Tirado and Karlo Andrei Ibarra. Obviously a city like San Juan, knowing the situation of Central America and the Caribbean, has little or no cultural infrastructure, so the efforts they have to do to be present are very different, for example there is not a collecting scene as in Buenos Aires, so their commercial strategy works more through this idea of ​​”economy of friendship”, in which some help others by triggering a neighborhood community relationship. So if we think about the particular characteristics of each one, these two could be taken as extreme cases and other spaces that go in between.

Let us say that the new strategies or management models they represent are their multiple functioning as exhibition spaces or residences, as a workshop, as spaces of thought, with tremendous flexibility where it is possible to put together a specific proposal for the market and participate in an art fair as Ch.ACO, as arteBA, as Art Lima or others, in the youth sections. Having the freedom to enter and leave the market, with one foot outside and another inside, they use the market strategy to be able to finance themselves. The freedom of action they propose has enormous potential in the creative art space in relation to their contexts, absolutely necessary spaces to unite the visibility of artists and the development of their careers. For example, another space that is interesting to highlight is Sagrada Mercancía. The Chilean space is in an absolutely marginal neighborhood of the galleries district, it is practically a garage. However, they make exhibitions of great quality, working a lot in relation to the materials that are in the environment. SM has managed to position itself within the circuit in a super professional way. On the other hand, I believe that a space as Planta has nothing to envy in terms of quality to a commercial gallery with more years of experience. All these spaces represent different ways of understanding, seeing, and belonging to the circuit of art, and above all to the art market.

T: Art fairs are a meeting point for the academic, community and commercial vertexes of the contemporary art system. From your experience as a curator and researcher outside and within the art market, what are the problems within the art market that we must face in order to improve the cultural system?

CCJ: I think the last thing I said to you in the previous answer detaches a bit towards this question. I believe that every day more all the issues, let’s say of the art world, of the cultural system in general, are intertwined; they do not live independently. For example, I, having done a PhD, having spent many years studying, involved in an academic circuit, always visiting and observing a little the phenomenon of art fairs and understanding that the market is something super necessary, I see how one nourishes of the other. I believe that one can not deny that the market is a contribution to the artistic circuit and in the market the scene in which that happens becomes stronger and it consolidates more, they are also having the possibility to visualize the career of its artist, to visualize their cultural scenes and, therefore, streamline them. I say this, thinking, for example, of scenes like Santiago, we can not say that it affects the entire Chilean scene, but it does affect an important part of the artistic community, of what the city of Santiago is, and affects Chile by rebound.

Then, an art fair, which is a purely commercial circuit, is super linked to how the culture is activated locally. Ch.ACO this year, for example, decided that in parallel to the fair there would be “the month of visual arts”, so there have been a number of activities in relation to that throughout the city, in different institutions. And the fair is like the culminating point of that series of activities. So, let’s say that the fair activates the artistic scene of the city over a period of time. In addition, this generates discussion, one witnesses how the scene becomes professionalized as the market becomes more active and consolidates more. Another example is Colombia, the art fair in Bogotá has made Colombian art “an export product”, and that the image we have of what Colombia has been in the political situation of the country in many ways change, move on to something more positive. There is an interrelation between the commercial aspect of the culture, the political aspect, the educational aspect, the academic aspect…and this obviously changes the way of living art.

And another super important point, the community aspect and how all this problematic of the art market can improve the cultural system. I think it’s a bit of a chain because, in the end, there is a community in an art fair, a community linked to the market, but at its basic point linked to artistic production, because if the most important are the works and is what we are commercializing, there is something that we can not forget that has to do with the symbolic value of the fair, the work of art. I personally feel in that space, as a curator, in which I have to watch over this symbolic value, I have to be able, within a fair, to create a curation, a project in which we do not forget, facing the mercantile object, the symbolic value the artwork has, of its social function. Then, no doubt, as the art market is strengthened, this is improving a cultural system and is generating spaces of understanding, new areas of knowledge, and other sensibilities as well.

Isabel Aninat
Galería Isabel Aninat

Terremoto: As one of the most important galleries in Chile, you have been an important element for the development of the contemporary national art system. From your experience over more than 30 years, what are the challenges the Chilean art scene faces in relation to the Latin American market?

Isabel Aninat: Galería Isabel Aninat aims to promote the artists we represent in Chile and abroad. Our geographic location does not allow us to do management just in this region. In addition we try to incorporate the artists in relevant collections, to establish contact with curators, students and institutions. Thanks to the work of years we have been able to introduce our artists within the collection of the Reina Sofía Museum, the MALBA, the National Museum of Fine Arts, Tate Modern and recently the Guggenheim Museum

We seek to encourage local collecting and respect the chain that exists in the development of visual arts. For this, it is essential to give weight, density and depth to the work we do. Bringing collectors to a workshop, conducting discussions, are part of the actions we are developing, for example. In the new space, we created Gabinete, a 12 meters long space for the exhibition of documents, discards, letters or projects not realized. The idea is to make known the head and the process of an artist. We are convinced that this will be an interesting space for the public and where we also want many people to participate; from collectors, curators, publishers or even study groups.

T: It is impossible to think the scene of Chilean art without the synergy propelled by Ch.ACO. How has the fair impacted the local art system beyond the days of the fair?

IA: Ch.ACO has strengthened the local scene and has put in value the organic of visual arts. It has encouraged collecting and thanks to the program of conversations, for example, it has promoted the different roles that make up the local art system. These efforts are reflected, for example, in this year’s Focus edition, led by Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, where a dialogue between artists has been established as an important platform for the incentive of collecting.

Sofía de Grenade
Artista representada por 
Sagrada Mercancía

Terremoto: Could you tell us a little about the results your participation had in the ninth edition of Ch.ACO being part of the section Planta, which was curated by Carolina Castro Jorquera?

Sofía de Grenade: It seems to me that this edition of Ch.ACO was quite interesting, I deeply emphasize the work of Carolina Castro, I believe it is a curatorial project that not only has to do with the artworks, but is a curatorship related to people, projects, to generate encounters and collaborations between people from different parts of the continent. 

Within this specific aspect I would like to highlight this year’s incorporation of the gallery Km 0.2 into the section Planta, it is trascendental to us to have the possibility to meet artists from Puerto Rico, as it opens up a new dimension around what the art of the Caribbean is, something pretty unknown for us coming from the South of the continent. This encounters open up many possibilities of thinking relations, crossings and production of work in relation to communities not only South American, but also to understand this idea of Central America where colonial influences are much more complex, and where I think there are many issues to work together.

Therefore, I believe that one of the most important axes for us as a project  participating in Ch.ACO obviously has to do, on the one hand, with the circulation of work in the market, not only Chilean, but also abroad, but it also has to do with meeting people and through these people to establish relationships that hopefully translate into collaborations in the near future. It is a way of re-articulating a scene, not only established from the participation of certain poles, but from the exchange of these poles, to make that this kind of communion between independent projects also generates work. I think that was the most meaningful and with more outreach of our experience for me at the fair.

T: The ninth edition of Ch.ACO ends as an art fair for this year but will continue through public and community arts programs throughout the city. How do these programs impact the local artistic community? What do you think are the challenges facing the local art system beyond the efforts made by Ch.ACO?

SdG: I believe that in Chile there is a great work to be done around the formation of audiences in all areas of art and culture and the challenges they face in this regard are enormous, basically the legacy of many years of dictatorship and the footprint in the social and cultural processes that are present to this day.

I believe that Ch.ACO aims at a commercialization and economic and commercial value of the works, which is fulfilled in a certain spectrum of society. But the relationship that exists at the level of image between Ch.ACO and certain economic and social elite is undeniable. I believe that our response, from what I do day to day, is to work from self-management on as many fronts as possible. Not only as a methodology of work but also as a model of autonomy by artists and collectives. I believe that, in that sense, self-management initiatives are very important in Chile because they are an option to the academy, it is not a rejection, but it is a marginalized work option as well as institutions and non-dependence of State funds forever.

So I think that in front of the goal of generating new audiences there should not be narrowed to the categories of public art or community art as they are quite restricted. I see an extremely literal relationship; the fact of taking a work to the street does not necessarily guarantee that people will relate more to the art or that more people will incorporate that into their life. It is a hierarchical and to a certain extent imposing model. It seems to me that much more important initiatives have to do, for example, with self-management and think of new forms of circulation for the visual arts, an example of this are the art fairs that have been developed during the last years. The fair Impresionante that was first performed last year on the MAC seems to me a wonderful example of audience generation; I had never seen so many people in the museum participating so actively. There is a notion of access and exchange at low cost, an idea of ​​community from the encounter between particular subjects that have an intimate and particular encounter with these artistic productions.

On the other hand, also, from the educational point of view, it expresses to the new generations the coexistence of different models of management, production and circulation of contemporary art, it is an invitation to subvert the formats and to promote the exchange and autonomy of both people and works.


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